It’s been determined – Donald Trump does not have immunity from the January 6 civil suit filed by U.S. Capitol Police officers, according to the appeals court.
Supreme Court Showdown Looms
On Friday, Trump faced a setback in a Washington, D.C. federal appeals court, which aligns with a previous court’s decision that the ex-president doesn’t have immunity in a civil lawsuit filed by Capitol Police officers. The decision paves the way for a legal showdown over presidential authority likely going to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Physical and Emotional Toll on Officers
In the aftermath of the Capitol riot, these officers are demanding legal compensation from Trump, citing the physical and emotional injuries they faced and holding him accountable.
Smith v. Trump: Immunity Claim Dismissed
In the Smith v. Trump case, a lawsuit by eight Capitol police officers, the three-judge panel dismissed Trump’s immunity claim, a decision that echoed a similar case involving Officer James Blassingame. The officers in this suit assert that they were brutally attacked and racially abused during the Jan 6 attack as a result of the actions taken by the former president.
Trump’s Legal Defense Collapses
Issuing an unsigned opinion on Friday, the three judges declared the case they were reviewing “indistinguishable” from a similar previous case, and stated that Trump’s immunity argument “fails.”
Joint Judicial Verdict
Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, along with Judges Bradley Garcia and Judith Rogers, wrote in their opinion, quoting from the D.C. Circuit’s earlier ruling: “Whether [President Trump’s] actions involved speech on matters of public concern bears no inherent connection to the essential distinction between official and unofficial acts”.
Case Against Trump Allowed to Proceed
In his defense, the former president argued for absolute immunity against the lawsuit. Yet, in January, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta rejected his motion and permitted the case to proceed.
Capitol Police Confront Trump in Court
In August 2021, seven Capitol Police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6 and suffered assaults and harassment during the attack filed the case, claiming that these events were the outcome of “unlawful actions” by Trump and his associates.
The lawsuit accuses Trump of conspiring with extremist groups like The Proud Boys and The Oathkeepers, and far-right political figures such as Ali Alexander and Roger Stone, who all played a role in hyping up Trump’s speech near the White House leading up to the Capitol attack.
Legal Heat Intensifies for Trump
Trump’s legal woes extend beyond this one single lawsuit. He’s also facing legal action from Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, Police Officer Sidney Hemby, and a coalition of ten House Democrats.
Near-Death Experience in Capitol Riot
US Capitol Police Officer Byron Evans, who is part of the lawsuit, opened up about his experience during the riot in an interview with CNN on June 4, 2021. He recounted being inside the locked Senate chamber with one hundred senators and Vice President Mike Pence during the riot, his hand on his weapon, readying himself for what could have been a deadly encounter at the doors.
“This Could Be the Day”
“I remember thinking, all that stuff like, Byron, this is the day. All those times you’ve given thought on what you would do, you’re doing it. This is the day,” Evans recounted. “This could be the day that I may have to use deadly force. I had already heard of shots fired over the radio.”
The Tragic Toll of January 6
On the day of the unrest, four individuals lost their lives: one was fatally shot by police, while the other three died due to natural causes. The day after, a Capitol Police officer who was assaulted by the protesters died. In the aftermath, four police officers involved in defending the Capitol subsequently committed suicide, and over a hundred police officers were left injured.